Discussions continue on Navy's proposed water rate increase - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Discussions continue on Navy's proposed water rate increase

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 by Jolene Toves

Guam - As the Navy does not seem to be giving Waterworks a break, talks about options are on the table.    

According to Senator Frank Blas, Jr. a 40% rate increase is "ridiculous" but that is exactly what the navy intends to charge GovGuam for water purchased from Fena.

"I think anybody in wanting to think that we can afford a 40% increase automatically in that fashion is ludicrous," he said.

As we reported, GovGuam purchases water from Fena to service residents in Santa Rita and Agat and since word was received by the Consolidated Commission on Utilities that the Navy proposes to charge an additional 40% on top of the 260% increase which has occurred over the last seven years. They have been looking at their options. "First of all the Department of Defense should not be in the business and should never be in the business to create or make water or power for that matter," the senator said.

The CCU along with Blas question why the increase is necessary and whether the Navy is having challenges controlling it costs of water since they are charging far more than what GWA charges. According to CCU chairperson Joseph Duenas his talks with the Navy have led him to believe that the Navy will not give waterworks a break, this has opened discussions of a possible merger of the systems it is an idea that Blas appreciates.

"So let's go back to this whole idea of merging the systems I would appreciate a merged system but I don't think that we need to pay as much maybe there are costs but I don't think it warrants the 40% and I don't think it warrants that we are going to use all the monies owed to us for compact costs to pay for this," he said.

Also on the table is the idea of purchasing Fena. Congresswoman Madeline Boradallo had authored legislation passed by Congress to have the navy turn over Fena, but Congress requires GovGuam to pay the fair market value for that asset. "The federal government in the law basically acknowledged we believe they acknowledged that there was money that was owed to us for our Compact costs and there was a suggestion that we use that money that was owed to us a as a means for us to pay for the purchase of Fena," he explained.

However Duenas does not believe that Compact impact funds should be used for the purchase of Fena and while Blas agrees he says the admittance of the federal government that they owe money to GovGuam for its Compact costs could warrant a law suit. A suit that GovGuam can successfully win as to this day money is still owed by the feds. He said, "It never was its still something that's still in the books it's a discussion that I think we still need to have with the department of interior and the Obama Administration based on this admittance and so I am still looking at this at being able to further this discussion."

He says that he would like to have conversations to avoid the law suit. Meanwhile the CCU continues to find ways reduce the amount of water consumed from the navy and entertains the idea of jointly operating Fena.  
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